As it has become time to really start reflecting on 2019 as a cohesive year for hip-hop, it has become extremely apparent that the underground has fully completed its shift towards primarily featuring the sound of emotion-filled and autotune-tinged ballads day in and day out. Though this wave in large part is defined by such obviously influential acts like Drain Gang and their corresponding members, numerous others in their liking have come to further what it means to embody this style — with a select few even pushing it to new and telling heights.

Out of this select few, none have quite matched the undeniable combination of quality and innovation quite like Swoopy has for the entirety of this year. His newest project – the third installment of what has now become the BagLife trilogy – is not just his most prominent offering yet, it is a piece of art within the current state of this scene that may just serve as the predicate for the next wave of popularity in the underground. 

Taking what has already been established by the prior two releases in the trilogy, BagLife 3 capitalizes on the  all-too-prominent trend of stark depictions of emotional instability all presented through the lens of glistening and bright sonic aspects. From this spectacle, it is saturated in the ideals of the growing popularity of this style of hip-hop, but it is what this project does in the littlest ways that make its potential influence so large. 

What is so vividly translated throughout every song on this project is a seamless cycle through tracks of heightened intensity, lowly serenades, and multiple occasions of the midpoint between both of those labels.

Moving so quickly through these alternations has the inherent potential to make for a choppy and off-putting experience, but the album is constructed in just in the right way where this constant shifting never gets old. Rather, it elevates the entire experience more than anything.

These sonic aspects are in one-to-one correspondence with the thematic elements of the album as a whole, both of which make up its defining features.

What Swoopy accomplishes in light of this fact is taking the pre-established standards set by both artists that have come before him in this style and the reputation he has already made for himself to create something completely new in the process. 

This is primarily seen through the application of the once-shallow elements of nightcore and 2000s culture as a whole now at the helm of the project’s ethos. These aesthetics make themselves known on nearly every song in the album’s short runtime, providing a rapid rush of both nostalgia and nuance in under 30 minutes.

The focus of numerous artists working in the grander music scene right now is beginning to shift towards this burgeoning nostalgia for this particular era, and this project is simply introducing that mindset into the underground scene — an inevitable, yet necessary action that was bound to happen at some point. 

It helps that Swoopy communicates this introduction so well, as that exact sentiment is what makes this release so potentially influential and genre-defining. He is simply moving towards the future faster than anyone else making similar artistic decisions.

That is not to say that this project does not make use of past industry standards as well. Tracks like “Hotbox” and “The Jungle” rely heavily on sounds both past and presently relevant in popular hip-hop; but they are still presented through an innovative lens that still creates a new sound despite their obvious influences. 

From the beautifully textured sounds found on “Look Alive” to the merrilly-assembled ballad “Wishening” – the latter being assisted by fellow stylictic innovators Buffalobang and Braxton Knight – the album sees the nearly flawless assimilation of docile synth leads and signature melodic vocal intervals provide an ever-present feeling of bliss and comfort for the majority of its runtime. The entire experience – as if it could not be any more 2000s-esque – is wrapped in a ball of thematic futurism — both metaphorically and visually.

It is that metaphoric aspect that will solidify this release as a landmark for the coming years, as the fact that it so perfectly achieves the goal of defining what can only be presumed as the future of this scene makes its influence already apparent enough. The future is truly being showcased at this very moment through pieces like this. 

Before it is too late to appreciate forward-thinking offerings like this during the time in which they were originally meant to be heard, it is a must to listen to this project right now. Swoopy is making sure to stay one step ahead of the future, and he is doing so by predicting what it is already going to be.